Susannah Taylor: How to be kind to your mind

Life is in limbo right now. Will we go back into lockdown? Will I have to juggle working, toddler tantrums and home schooling again? These questions whir around my head with no answers. I’m not alone. The new unknowns mean more people than ever are feeling stressed: an ONS survey found that almost 40 per cent of British adults felt high levels of anxiety during lockdown.

Writing down your problems really does help to solve them, says Susannah

So what can we do to navigate potentially risky waters ahead? Take time daily to focus on you. Non-negotiables are good nutrition, movement and quality sleep but there are self-care tips that can help keep your head above water even when you’re flailing. Each day for a month pick two or three of the below, and I guarantee you’ll feel less frazzled.

Write down what’s on your mind

Your emotions may be doing a loop-the-loop. Mindset coach Alister Gray suggests journaling, which can regulate mood. Writing down your thoughts can help reduce levels of adrenaline and cortisol. Write what’s on your mind or use prompts, such as, ‘What would make today great? How will I overcome problems? he says. ‘Then ask yourself what three things you are grateful for.’ (Search Alister Gray on YouTube.)

Get outside

Much has been written about the effects of nature on wellbeing.Yoga teacher Nicole Page Croft says, ‘A rainy walk, a cold-water swim or even planting tulips is enough to lift an ailing spirit.’ Don’t wait for the clouds to clear – nothing is more grounding than feeling the rain on your face or the wind on your cheeks.

Try meditation for non-meditators

The benefits of meditation are well documented, but Alister Gray has advice for those of us who don’t meditate. ‘Try the mantra “So hum” [meaning ‘I am that’ in Sanskrit]. With eyes closed, breathe in slowly to “so” and out to “hum” for two to three minutes,’ he says. ‘It gives you something to focus on and aids concentration.’

Breathe yourself calm

‘If you can calm your breathing, your mind will follow,’ says breathing coach Stuart Sandeman (@breathpod). He explains that breathing can be a mechanism for keeping emotions are feeling breaths your brain will try to derail you, but stick with it and your thoughts will stop firing.

Kick your tech habit

We may live in a high-tech world but we function on an old operating system. Our brains aren’t designed to absorb the volume of information we force them to. Alister says it’s important we cut back, whether that’s abstaining from social media or not watching the news (which he also says may be the reason you can’t sleep).

Learn to say no

When I feel overcommitted, I find saying no totally liberating. ‘Think of saying no as saying yes toyou,’ says Dominique Antiglio, a practitioner at be-sophro.com, a visualisation and movement practice to calm body and mind. ‘Commit to what matters to you first, because life is a marathon and you need a long-term self-care strategy for rest and recovery.’

Nutritional knowhow

If you’ve always wanted a nutrition consultation but are put off by the costs, then don’t miss Amelia Freer’s online course The Joy of Healthy Eating. With 30 beautifully produced video lessons, each ten minutes long, you’ll follow the acclaimed nutritional therapist (below) into her home, kitchen and garden, learning how to cook and nourish from the woman dubbed ‘the queen of good-for-you food’. At £127 it’s 30 lessons for the same price as a consultation. Details at createacademy.com

Need a better night’s sleep?

With its pine and eucalyptus scent, Olverum Bath Oil is my ultimate bath tonic. The brand has now created the Olverum Restful Sleep Pillow Mist, £25, an intoxicating blend of the highest quality essential oils and botanical extracts: bergamot, geranium, amyris, Roman camomile and a hint of lavender. It’s truly the stuff of dreams. olverum.com